The daily average inbound and outbound flights for Cambodia’s 3 international airports combined, number a mere 17 with the vast majority of them landing or taking off from Phnom Penh International Airport in September, according to Khek Norinda, Director of Communication and PR for Cambodia Airports.
He added that Siem Reap International Airport has nearly no flights and there are very few inbound and outbound aircraft at Sihanouk International Airport. These small numbers account for a 94 percent drop in arrivals and departures compared to September 2019, Norinda said.
“Mostly, the flights are to and from Chinese cities, Seoul, Taipei, and reduced frequency of recent resumptions of scheduled flights to and from Singapore and Ho Chi Minh city,” he added.
“With passenger traffic free falling 77 percent between January to September 2020, it is a grim picture for all the international airports and the situation is more grim than what we had expected as traffic continues to remain extremely low this year,” he added.
An overall reduction of air passengers (both international and domestic) ranging from 57 percent to 60 percent as of September 16, 2020, compared to 2019 has been recorded, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the specialised agency of the United Nations.
For other airports around the globe, the estimated loss is approximately 60 percent of passenger traffic and 61 percent or over $104.5 billion in airport revenues in 2020. However, for the airlines, a 54.7 percent decline has been recorded for revenue per passenger kilometer in 2020 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the ICAO.
Norinda said that revenues will be hit hard as activities plunge. However, Cambodia Airports has monitored very closely all of its expenses and is streamlining operations and adapting other activities to ensure efficiency at a peak level but with minimum manpower.
“While we understand that the government is facing its own budget constraint, tax relief would certainly help us sail through this very challenging situation and be in better shape to prepare for the future when air travel recovers. Air connectivity is vital to putting back Cambodia’s economy on the right track.” He added.
Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman at the Secretariat of Civil Aviation, told Khmer Times that the situation of the aviation sector in the Kingdom remains dire because of the COVID-19 as the pandemic has not yet shown any positive signs of abating while strict measures are still very much in place in every country across the globe.
“Now, there is low traffic of passengers by air as each country has imposed strict requirements for entering their countries, so the travellers do not want to travel,” he added.
Chanserey Vutha said that government has implemented six rounds of measures to support the airlines, and that there might be no further assistance or relief.”
The government is applying the minimum tax to all airline entities operating in Cambodia for a period of three months from October to December 2020 and there will be a delayed due date with respect to the payment of aviation fees by airline entities operating in Cambodia for a period of two months to the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation until the end of December 2020.
Chanserey Vutha said some destinations such as Malaysia and Indonesia are still closed because they are considered high risk destinations. However, to resume these flights, it is the role of the Ministry of Health. “If they find that these countries are at low risk of COVID-19, they will allow the flights to resume, but we do not know when it is going to happen,” he added.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.